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Loran Smith: Former Dog McIntyre proof a lineman can have a highlight-reel career

SANTA CLARA, Calif. —

Guy McIntyre, an alumnus of the trenches, was, in his NFL heyday, an accomplished interior lineman, who excelled when the constant scrimmaging and in fighting was “down and dirty.”

Grunt work suited him just fine, and he experienced enough signature moments to have his own highlight reel. How many linemen can say that about their careers?

From Thomasville to the University of Georgia to the San Francisco 49ers, success smiled on this gregarious all-star guard who had to keep a level head, as coaches couldn’t figure out where to play him. At Thomasville, coach Jim Hughes started him out on defense. Guy liked that. “I loved the contact of football and always felt at home on defense.” Hughes, however, saw scoring opportunity, too, and lined McIntyre up at tight end.

At Georgia, he began his career as a tight end, then moved to defense, which excited McIntyre because of the opportunity to play for Erk Russell. After a brief spell, he was summoned back to offense and finally landed permanently at offensive guard. Initially, that didn’t exactly make him a happy camper, but he had enough maturity to embrace the notion that it is better to be on the field than on the bench. “When I look back today, I realize that the move to offensive guard at Georgia is what gave me the opportunity to play in the National Football League,” Guy says.

He flourished in Athens and in San Francisco, where he now is the director of alumni relations for the 49ers. In a recent conversation at the 49ers training camp, where the team’s classy, new 68,500-seat, open-air stadium is being readied next door for opening day in 2013, Guy was happy to recall his pro career. When some of his highlights were noted, he smiled and nodded approvingly. There is more pride than ego in his makeup — just like there was more work ethic than showmanship when he excelled in NFL competition.

A review of his career goes beyond the fact that he was a reliable, productive lineman who was at his best when the challenge was the greatest. He had a star quality that set him apart. With the Bulldogs his resume includes these achievements:

— Starter and letterman for four years on four bowl teams and two Southeastern Conference Championship teams.

— Winner of the Jacobs Trophy as the best blocker in the SEC.

— Voted offensive captain as a senior.

— Made the block for John Lastinger on the option for the touchdown to win the 1984 Cotton Bowl, 10-9.

The 49ers drafted him in the 3rd round in 1984 which turned out to be a memorable year. He won his first of three Super Bowl rings, and while he had a backup role with the team, he figured prominently in a playoff victory against the Bears, which got San Francisco to the championship game. Against the Bears, playing for the NFC title, coach Bill Walsh lined Guy up in the Angus formation as a blocking back in place of Roger Craig. This prompted the Bears’ Mike Ditka to copy the formation the next season when he put Refrigerator Perry into the lineup at running back for the Bears. “Refrigerator scored a touchdown using our formation in the Super Bowl and he got all those McDonald’s commercials,” Guy laughs. He might not have gotten commercial attention, but there is plenty for McIntyre to appreciate about his NLF career in addition to the three Super Bowl rings:

— Five Pro Bowls.

— Seven-year starter with the 49ers in the Joe Montana era.

— In a 13 year career with 49ers, Packers and Eagles, all of his teams, except one, made it to the playoffs.

— Caught a touchdown pass from Joe Montana against the Falcons in 1990.

That last highlight still causes him to flash a generous smile.

For it to come against the Falcons in San Francisco made it special, but the icing on the cake was that he had to run over a couple of defenders to score. “They shoudda moved me to running back after that,” he smiled.

Wherever Guy McIntyre lined up in his career, he got high marks with his performances. He can look back and smile about jobs well done.

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